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The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto

Published: November 10th 2015.

Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers LLC, 512 Pages.

Author: Mitch Albom.


Reviewed by Siti Debitha Dawinda, SK Togop Darat Ranau.

Mitch Albom’s passion for music has brought to life another mesmerizing fictional masterpiece, The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto. This is yet another surrealistically magical, heartfelt story that can all be indulged in a single novel. First published in 2012, this novel has since become the talk of the town.

This novel narrates the epic adventures of Frankie Presto, a guitarist prodigy who touches and changes six lives with his six magical strings. The said man was born in a beleaguered church in Spain, during the Spanish War in 1936 where his mother dies not too soon after having him. His mother, Carmencita lulls him a song to keep him quiet and dies with Frankie in her arms. Josefa, a nun from the church takes pity on him and begin to take care of him. Unfortunately, he is thrown in the river as Frankie never stop crying the first time he ever hears music. Frankie is later saved by a hairless dog and gets adopted by Baffa, who does not say a word to Frankie of his adoption.

Upon growing up, Frankie’s keen interest and much developing talent on music has Baffa looking for a music teacher for him. Baffa sends Frankie to El Maestro for lessons. When Baffa is arrested during political factions, Frankie has no where else to go but El Maestro’s place. Frankie begins living with El Maestro amidst his learning with him. Unbeknownst to any of them, El Maestro is actually Frankie’s biological father. Under El Maestro’s guidance, Frankie becomes a great guitarist. Frankie is sent to America to achieve better luck and is given six magic guitar strings that turns blue every time Frankie changes someone’s fate. Those strings were his mother’s.  El Maestro asks for his friends to assist Frankie on his journey to America but is later betrayed by him. El Maestro is drowned, Frankie’s money is stolen and he is abandoned in London.

Frankie meets Django Reinhardt, a famous gypsy guitarist in London where he is asked to join his tour in America with Duke Ellington’s band. Frankie starts gaining more fame in America and later it comes to his knowledge that Baffa is not his real father. Frankie also meets his true love from Spain, Aurora, but they do not hit it off as his fame becomes the hindrance for them to be together. Frankie gets involved with someone else and reunite again with Aurora after quite some time. Unfortunately, an ill-fated event befalls on Aurora when Frankie is out drinking at night and Frankie blames himself while searching for his beloved. He mutilates his very hand that is used to play the guitar as guilt takes over him. They both rekindle their relationship and move to Waiheke Island where they opt out for adoption.

They adopt Kai, a foundling little girl. Frankie is reached by a band of young men, in attempt to record him playing his guitar while chatting with his family. He is secretly taped, naming the tape as “The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto”. Not too long after that, Aurora begs Frankie to visit Spain. They go in search for El Maestro and Aurora, for her sister. There, Frankie meets Alberto who then explain his massacre of El Maestro. He goes on a rampage but could not get his hand to harm Alberto. Josefa do the deed for Frankie. He and his family return to Waiheke where Aurora dies in a hurricane. Frankie goes on searching for the original tape of him playing the guitar so Kai will be able to hear them chatting together again. Frankie’s life ends on the stage of Kai’s award ceremony in Spain where they play “Lagrima”, together.

This story is not only a piece of art in the sense of its literary aspect, but also the way Albom accompanies his 17 original song sound track. Mitch Albom is not only a great novelist, he is also a musician- The Magic String of Frankie Presto really is his remarkable ‘song’ in all senses.

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